Mikel Arteta said he handed Mesut Ozil a start at Bournemouth because the German had earned it with his performances in training this week.
The World Cup winner was in fine fettle during the first half at the Vitality Stadium, repeatedly pulling the strings for the Gunners after finding pockets of space.
Ahead of last weekend’s game with Everton, interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg said he wouldn’t have selected Ozil – who was injured anyway – for his starting lineup because of his stroppy reaction to being subbed off against Manchester City. It was a bold move but seemed to provoke a reaction from the player.
Unfortunately, his teammates squandered the chances he made but Ozil’s 75-minute cameo was a definite positive for the new boss on a day when his side had to settle for a 1-1 draw.
“To be fair his attitude in training since the day that I walked in the building has been incredible,” Arteta told his post-game press conference.
“I’ve seen this. I’ve said that I was going to give a clean slate to everybody and it was fair to give it to him.
“When we did the game preparation and were watching the opponents, where we could hurt them, we believed that he could be a key point.
“We prepared the game like this with him. He responded, did what he had to do, and we could’ve scored two or three goals because of him.”
With Chelsea and Manchester United to come in the next week, an influential Ozil is definitely a boon. Let’s hope he can build on today.